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Adaptation - a Caribbean View



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Neville Trotz

Neville Trotz argues that responding to climate change requires increasing current resilience to climate variability.

The author spearheads Caribbean efforts to build capacity for adaptation to climate change under the auspices of projects funded by the Global Environment Facility and the Canadian International Development Agency.

The Barbados Programme of Action, articulated at the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Conference (1994), identified climate change as a priority issue for the small island and low lying coastal Caribbean states. Caribbean countries have focused their response to this threat on building national capacity for adaptation, while pressing at international fora for increased mitigation efforts from Annex 1 countries.

Disasters threaten development efforts in the region by diverting scarce development resources to disaster response activities. Most disasters are linked to climate, and underline the existing vulnerability of the region to climate variability. Floods, droughts, forest fires and landslides are all associated with the El Niño phenomena.

Aruba

Coastline of Aruba

© Mick Kelly

Average regional annual temperatures increased by at least 0.5 degrees C between 1900 and 1995. Precipitation is decreasing, and sea level rise threatens coastal areas, where most people live and work. Although the extent of future climate change risk is unclear, it is certain that climate change will exacerbate present-day regional vulnerability to climate variability. Serious loss of lives and livelihoods from recent heavy rainfall and floods in Haiti and the Dominican Republic provide evidence of this.

Immediate action is required to increase current resilience to risks arising from climate variability in order to improve capacity to respond to long-term climate change and ensure sustainable development in the region.

Adaptation in the region is informed by the urgent need to respond to risks arising from climate variability. This approach has been adopted by the GEF-funded Caribbean Planning for Adaptation to Climate Change project, and the preparation of National Adaptation Plans of Action. Regional and national consultations have improved understanding of perceptions of vulnerability to climate variability, capacity to cope and effective current responses.

We have learnt that adaptation is not a novel science; many solutions (such as Integrated Coastal Zone Management, Integrated Water Resources Management, Land Use Planning) have existed for some time. Only the resources and the commitment to implement them are missing. The need to institute and finance these solutions becomes more urgent with the threat of climate change.

Most SIDS suffer from a lack of capacity and limited availability of data for rigorous climate and vulnerability studies. The ‘bottom-up’ approach to adaptation, therefore, provides a valuable alternative to approaches now in vogue. The region looks forward to the availability of resources to facilitate reduction of vulnerability to climate variability - a legitimate approach to the longer-term goal of adaptation to climate change.


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Further information
Neville Trotz, ACCC Project Implementation Unit, Lazaretto Complex, Black Rock, St Michael, Barbados. Fax: +246 4170461. Email: trotzcpacc@sunbeach.net.

On the Web
The Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary lists Small Island States websites.

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Tiempo Climate Newswatch
Updated: April 12th 2013